Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter XII
Chapter XII.—The Bishops in Jerusalem.
1. At this time Narcissus 1530 was the bishop of the church at Jerusalem, and he is celebrated by many to this day. He was the fifteenth in succession from the siege of the Jews under Adrian. We have shown that from that time first the church in Jerusalem was composed of Gentiles, after those of the circumcision, and that Marcus was the first Gentile bishop that presided over them. 1531
2. After him the succession in the episcopate was: first Cassianus; after him Publius; then Maximus; 1532 following them Julian; then Gaius; 1533 after him Symmachus and another Gaius, and again another Julian; after these Capito 1534 and Valens and Dolichianus; and after all of them Narcissus, the thirtieth in regular succession from the apostles.
The date of Narcissus accession to the see of Jerusalem is not known to us. The Chron. affords us no assistance; for although it connects him among other bishops with the first (Armen.) or third (Jerome) year of Severus, it does not pretend to give the date of accession, and in one place says expressly that the dates of the Jerusalem bishops are not known (non potuimus discernere tempora singulorum). But from chap. 22 we learn that he was already bishop in the tenth year of Commodus (189 a.d.); from chap. 23, that he was one of those that presided at a Palestinian council, called in the time of Bishop Victor, of Rome, to discuss the paschal question (see chap. 23, §2); from Bk. VI. chap. 8, that he was alive at the time of the persecution of Severus (202 sq.); and from the fragment of one of Alexanders epistles given in Bk. VI. chap. 11, that he was still alive in his 116th year, sometime after 212 a.d. (see Bk. VI. chap. 11, note 1). Epiphanius (Hær. LXVI. 20) reports that he lived until the reign of Alexander Severus (222 a.d.), and this in itself would not be impossible; for the epistle of Alexander referred to might have been written as late as 222. But Epiphanius is a writer of no authority; and the fact is, that in connection with Origens visit in Palestine, in 216 (see Bk. VI. chap. 19), Alexander is mentioned as bishop of Jerusalem; and Narcissus is not referred to. We must, therefore, conclude that Narcissus was dead before 216. We learn from Bk. VI. chap. 9 that Narcissus had the reputation of being a great miracle-worker, and he was a man of such great piety and sanctity as to excite the hatred of a number of evil-doers, who conspired against him to blacken his character. In consequence of this he left Jerusalem, and disappeared entirely from the haunts of men, so that it became necessary to appoint another bishop in his place. Afterward, his slanderers having suffered the curses imprecated upon themselves in their oaths against him, Narcissus returned, and was again made bishop, and was given an assistant, Alexander (see Bk. VI. chaps. 10 and 11). A late tradition makes Narcissus a martyr (see Nicephorus, H. E. IV. 19), but there is no authority for the report.226:1531
Upon the so-called bishops of Jerusalem down to the destruction of the city under Hadrian, see Bk. IV. chap. 5. Upon the destruction of Jerusalem under Hadrian, and the founding of the Gentile Church in Ælia Capitolina, and upon Marcus the first Gentile bishop, see Bk. IV. chap. 6.
The list given here by Eusebius purports to contain fifteen names, Marcus being the sixteenth, and Narcissus being the thirtieth; but only thirteen names are given. In the Chron., however, and in Epiphanius (Hær. LXVI. 20) the list is complete, a second Maximus and a Valentinus being inserted, as 26th and 27th, between Capito and Valens. The omission here is undoubtedly due simply to the mistake of some scribe. The Chron. puts the accession of Cassianus into the 23d year of Antoninus Pius (160 a.d.), and the accession of the second Maximus into the sixth year of Commodus (185 a.d.), but it is said in the Chron. itself that the dates of the various bishops are not known, and hence no reliance can be placed upon these figures. Epiphanius puts the accession of the first Gaius into the tenth year of Antoninus Pius, which is thirteen years earlier than the date of the Chron. for the fourth bishop preceding. He also puts the death of the second Gaius in the eighth year of Marcus Aurelius (168 a.d.) and the death of the second Maximus in the sixteenth year of the same reign, thus showing a variation from the Chron. of more than nine years. The episcopate of Dolichianus is brought down by him to the reign of Commodus (180 a.d.). As shown in note 1, however, the date given by him for Narcissus is quite wrong, and there is no reason for bestowing any greater credence upon his other dates. Syncellus assigns five years to Cassianus, five to Publius, four to Maximus, two to Julian, three to the first Gaius, two to Symmachus, three to the second Gaius, four to the second Julian, two to an Elias who is not named by our other authorities, four to Capito, four to the second Maximus, five to Antoninus, three to Valens, four to Narcissus the first time, and ten the second time. His list, however, is considerably confused,—Dolichianus being thrown after Narcissus with an episcopate of twelve years,—and at any rate no reliance can be placed upon the figures given. We must conclude that we have no means of ascertaining the dates of these various bishops until we reach Narcissus. We know nothing about any of them (Narcissus excepted) beyond the fact that they were bishops.226:1532
Called Maximinus by the Armenian Chron., but all our other authorities call him Maximus.226:1533
The name is given Γ€ιος in this chapter, and by Syncellus; but Jerome and the Armenian give Gaianus, and Epiphanius Γαιανός. All the authorities agree upon the name of the next Gaius (who is, however, omitted by Rufinus).226:1534
Eusebius has Καπίτων, so also Epiphanius, with whom Jerome agrees, writing Capito. The Armenian, however, has Apion, and Syncellus says ᾽Απίων, οἱ δὲ Καπίτων.
Next: Chapter XIII
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